An Incredibly Rare White Grizzly Bear Was Spotted in Banff, Canada

Nicol Natale
Photo credit: Bow Valley Facebook
Photo credit: Bow Valley Facebook

From Prevention

  • A white grizzly bear has been spotted in Banff, Canada.

  • This species of bear is extremely rare, according to wildlife experts.

  • Locals of Banff have named the bear Nakoda.

On April 29, Rim Rock Resort in Banff, Canada shared a video of bears to its Instagram feed. Obviously, bears in Canada are quite common, so you wouldn’t think anything special of the post. But one of the normally brown-haired grizzly bears looked different from the others: It was totally white.

According to bear biologist Sarah Elmeligi, who spoke with local outlet The Star, the white grizzly bear is a rare animal. A typical grizzly bear is a type of brown bear that is very large, with a coat that generally ranges from light tan to dark brown. They have extra-long claws and a hump near their shoulders to provide extra strength for digging.

The rare white bear has been spotted roaming around Banff ever since. On May 18, Bow Valley Network shared a video of the white grizzly bear asking its Facebook followers to vote on a name for the bear. Ultimately, they landed on “Nakoda the White Grizzly.”


“Nakoda is a name originally from the Indigenous people of Banff. The name means ‘Friend’ or ‘Ally’ in the native language of the three aboriginal tribes of the area—Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Wesley,” Bow Valley Network wrote on Facebook.


Nakoda joined other famous bears in the area such as The Boss, a 660-pound male grizzly bear, and Split Lip, a large grizzly who has eaten other grizzly bears in Banff National Park.


Officials say Nakoda “is a very special bear and as always, if you see it in the wild, do not disturb it by getting too close. We all want Nakoda the White Grizzly to eventually become Nakoda the ‘Great’ White Grizzly of Banff National Park area,” the Facebook post warned.


Wildlife experts who spoke to The Guardian said that they’ve known about the white grizzly in Banff since 2017, although the public is only recently learning about the animal after these few viral social media posts.

“It’s an amazing thing to see such a unique [creature] but we hope people can realize that it highlights the conservation concerns with the species as a whole,” Jon Stuart-Smith, a wildlife conservationist with Parks Canada, told The Star. He also urged visitors not to stop their cars if they see the white grizzly bear and to keep your distance.

Beyond the ultra-rare white grizzly, other species of bears are very common at Banff National Park. Parks Canada records every reported bear sighting, and if you skim the list, you can see that there is a bear spotted nearly every day. Officials recommend keeping bear spray on you “at all times” if you plan to hike any of the park’s trails.

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